Firstly let's discuss CBD vs THC and what’s the difference.
Both cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) are phytocannabinoids.
They cause various effects within our bodies as a result of interacting with certain cells, particularly those in our brains.
As cannabinoids, they both have their similarities. For starters, they are the two most abundant cannabinoids that you could find naturally in hemp.
On top of this, the various applications they could be used for at a molecular level are quite similar.
Such resemblances are so strong that, until recently, the scientific community actually believed they were the same substance.
But this hypothesis has since been proven false. Nowadays, we know that THC is a psychotropic drug controlled by various government authorities, whereas CBD is considered safe and is used legally across the world.
However, none of this has stopped a steady stream of misinformation being produced about the two. Time to set the record straight.
The obvious and visible difference between THC and CBD is that THC can get you high, while CBD cannot.
Both are known to have healing properties, but high amounts of THC are less likely to be tolerated by patients, while CBD is known to be tolerable even at high doses.
CBD vs THC: Health benefits OR NOT?
There has been extensive research into the SUPPORTING benefits of THC.
This research suggests that THC has many therapeutic properties which can be utilised in a myriad of clinical applications.
On the other hand, research into the benefits of CBD are still in their infancy. Initial studies suggest CBD has many of the same therapeutic properties as THC, but without the high and other adverse side effects associated with THC.
In fact, CBD can actually protect against the more derogatory effects of THC.
CBD vs THC: Chemical structure
Both CBD and THC have the exact same molecular structure: 21 carbon atoms, 30 hydrogen atoms, and 2 oxygen atoms.
A slight difference in how the atoms are arranged accounts for the differing impacts on your body.
Both CBD and THC are chemically similar to your body’s own endocannabinoid system. This allows them to interact with your cannabinoid receptors.
The interaction impacts the release of neurotransmitters in your brain. Neurotransmitters are chemicals responsible for relaying messages between cells.
CBD vs THC: Psychoactive components
Despite their similar chemical structures, CBD and THC don’t have the same psychoactive effects.
In fact, CBD is a non psychoactive compound. That means it doesn’t produce the “high” associated with THC.
THC binds with the cannabinoid 1 (CB1) receptors in the brain. It produces a high or sense of euphoria.
CBD doesn’t binds to CB1 receptors, this is why it does not produce a “high” in users. In fact, it can interfere with the binding of THC and dampen the psychoactive effects.
CBD vs THC: The scientific view
As you must have guessed by now, it’s more-or-less universally accepted within the scientific community that CBD is safer than THC.
Studies showing correlations between using THC over a long period of time and showing symptoms of particular psychiatric disorders – such as psychosis, schizophrenia and depression – have supported these views.
However, we have to be clear that correlation doesn’t always mean causation – the source of the problem may be something else.
On top of that, there’s still a lot of research to be done on CBD and – with early results looking positive already – scientists, on the whole, are hoping that even more beneficial applications are yet to be found.
CBD vs THC: Legality. Can I buy CBD?
Due to the psychoactive properties of THC it is classed as a controlled substance in the UK, and therefore illegal.
In fact, this is also the case in most parts of the world although changes are slowly occurring as the therapeutic properties of THC are becoming more widely accepted.
CBD, on the other hand, is non psychoactive and therefore it won’t get you high.
CBD food supplement is sold in the UK, just the same as the vitamins and minerals supplements you buy.
To make sure you are buying a safe and legal CBD product, please only purchase from a reputable company.
CBD vs THC: Side effects
CBD is well tolerated, even in large doses.
Although it is possible to experience drug-to-drug interactions between CBD and other medications you may be taking. If you are concerned please consult your doctor.
THC, on the other hand, often causes temporary side effects, such as:
● increased heart rate
● coordination problems
● dry mouth
● red eyes
● slower reaction times
● memory loss
These side effects are part of the compound’s psychoactive properties.
Neither compound is fatal and in the case of CBD, it is well tolerated even at high doses.
Will CBD show on a drug test?
As most UK drug tests detect THC not CBD, if you buy your CBD product from a reputable company which sells legal CBD, then you are unlikely to fail a drugs test. But this depends on the quality of the CBD you are buying.
Cannabinoids like THC and CBD are stored in the body’s fat. They can show up on drug tests for several days or weeks after you use them.
The majority of drugs tests do not test for CBD but CBD-sensitive tests are available.
Most standard drug tests will look for chemicals related to THC, so THC or cannabis use will show up on a screening.
This is because, in the UK and many other countries around the world, THC is classed as an illegal substance.
Likewise, hemp can produce some THC in addition to CBD, so a test could be positive for THC even if you’ve not used it.
But, it is possible. Just the same as it’s possible to test positive while taking some prescription and over-the-counter medicines.
Is there a winner?
It’s easy to see from our lowdown above why someone might come to the conclusion that CBD is the “better” cannabinoid of the two. But that’s not how food supplements and medicines tend to work.
Both of these substances are different, in the effects they have and the way they can promote everyday wellbeing and their potential to treat diseases and illnesses.
You can’t accurately label THC as bad, useless or worthless as it’s not necessarily any of these things – it can have some very potent medical uses.
As well as that, a lot of research is yet to be done on CBD, so there’s still a chance that it could have some adverse long-term side effects, even if such a possibility is admittedly slim.
Cannabis has been used for thousands of years without a single associated cause of death, incredible when you compare that to the UK, which last year had over 800 deaths caused by prescription drugs and the USA had in excess of 25,000 deaths caused by LEGAL prescription drugs.
However, even when such mitigations are taken into account, the fact that CBD is considered entirely safe and that THC can be abused in the form of a drug means that the former often gets a better review.
This is, in many cases, justified for the reasons stated.
There’s a lot of misinformation spread about both CBD and THC, so it helps to know the facts, or at least professional hypotheses from the scientific community.
If you’re interested in learning more about these cannabinoids, then check out our other features here.